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MORIARTY Has Your First Word On Spielberg's TAKEN!!

Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.

Moments ago, Sci-Fi Channel and Dreamworks made an official announcement in Pasadena regarding a much-rumored television project of theirs, something I know I'll be keeping an active eye on as it winds its way through production. Seems that Spielberg is returning to the world of UFOs with TAKEN, a 20-hour miniseries event.

In many ways, I believe CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND is the film Spielberg got into filmmaking to make. He toyed with those ideas all through his childhood, and anyone who's picked up the recent DVD reissue of the film can attest to the fact that it still hums with a passion and a sincerity that is missing not only from Spielberg's recent work, but from most genre films in general. Say what you will about the story of Roy Neary, but Spielberg meant it. It's beautiful, both funny and frightening in equal measure, with a sense of wonder that never seems to fade.

Thanks to a spy who was in Pasadena this morning at the official press conference, I can share the following information with you, straight from the source:

Production is set to begin in September in Vancouver on one of the most monumental miniseries events in television history: “Taken,” an epic, 20-hour, 10-part saga from the SCI FI Channel, Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks Television, and written and executive produced by Leslie Bohem (“Dante’s Peak”). Steve Burton (upcoming motion picture “The Last Castle,” “General Hospital”), Julie Benz (“Angel”) and Joel Gretsch (“The Legend of Bagger Vance”) have been cast, with additional cast members to be announced in the coming weeks. Steve Beers also serves as executive producer.

“Taken” is a sweeping, science fiction adventure that weaves together over 50 years of alien abductions into the compelling story of three families’ experiences. Currently in active pre-production, the miniseries is scheduled to air during fourth quarter ’02 as an original event exclusively on SCI FI.

Steve Burton stars in “Taken” as Randall Keys, a World War II fighter pilot who learns that the strange lights he saw in the night sky while on a mission over Germany weren’t simply “marsh gas” from swamps. Best known for his work as Jason Morgan on “General Hospital,” Burton will be seen this fall in the feature film “The Last Castle,” opposite Robert Redford, James Gandolfini and Mark Ruffalo. Julie Benz -- who captivated television audiences this past year with her portrayal of the tragic vampire-turned-human Darla on The WB series “Angel” -- stars as Kate Keys, Randall’s wife, who is forced to raise their son alone as Randall’s struggle to cope with his abduction experience drives him further and further away from his family. Joel Gretsch, who most recently played legendary golfer Bobby Jones opposite Will Smith and Matt Damon in Robert Redford’s “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” will star as Owen Jones, a ruthless, unscrupulous young Army officer who sees the Roswell crash as an opportunity to jump-start his career.

Already the largest provider of original primetime scripted series on cable – basic or premium, SCI FI has recently broadened its scope to include a brand-new slate of original movie and miniseries projects. Recently announced deals include “Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars,” “A Tale of Two Cities,” “Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers,” “Clive Barker’s Saint Sinner” and the 4-hour miniseries “Firestarter Rekindled,” which just wrapped production. Most recently, the Channel announced two deals to adapt the works of Ursula Le Guin – “The Left Hand of Darkness” and her “Earthsea Trilogy” of books, as well as the Ray Bradbury-scripted “Illustrated Man” as a new feature-length film.

A couple of interesting things in there... seems they've changed the title of the new Rod Lurie film from THE CASTLE to THE LAST CASTLE. I guess to avoid problems with the Australian comedy from a few years ago. I'm delighted to see Julie Benz in a major role in this thing. Can't get enough of her.

Overall, I'm interested. Sci-Fi Channel seems to be stepping up their efforts as a content creator, finally, and there are some very interesting projects on the list of stuff to come. If handled with the right approach, TAKEN could be strong material, and it sounds ambitious as hell. It's definitely one to keep on the radar between now and its release.

Now if only I could find a way to sneak a look at BAND OF BROTHERS...

"Moriarty" out.

Readers Talkback
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  • July 10, 2001, 10:34 a.m. CST

    Spielberg's Taken

    by barboo

    This should be a great miniseries. It'll give Steven sufficient time to develop both plot and characterizations. Looking forward to it....

  • July 10, 2001, 11 a.m. CST

    Sounds a little like "Invasion: Earth"...

    by KazamaSmokers

    ... which I liked a lot. (Yes, I'm the one...) Could be pretty good, but I have to wonder if the public these days has the attention span a 20-hour miniseries would require. (Hey, whatever happened to the Riverworld series SciFi was working on?)

  • July 10, 2001, 11:21 a.m. CST

    Sounds kind of lackluster

    by virtualelder

    spielberg on TV has never quite worked, for some reason. It's as if there's a feeling of being over-manipulated on the small screen, not unlike the last 25 minutes of A.I. - Ian

  • July 10, 2001, 11:42 a.m. CST

    Oh no.. anything but this..

    by spider-ham

    Someone stop Spielberg.. please..

  • July 10, 2001, 11:48 a.m. CST

    This reminds me of something, well lots of things actually.

    by otis von zipper

    The story is similar to many things (X-Files, Dark Skies, even Close Encounters), but it got me thinking of wonderful little movie from the 80's called Strange Invaders. Paul LeMat is looking for his ex-wife in a town that had been taken over by aliens in the 50's. Great tribute to the sci-fi B-movies of the 50's and 60's. If you've never seen it check it out.

  • July 10, 2001, 12:01 p.m. CST

    Let's hear some ideas for the actor to portray Ged

    by Kagero

    ... from LeGuin's Earthsea trilogy. Nobody comes to mind immediately, but I'm at work and can't focus on it.

  • July 10, 2001, 12:06 p.m. CST

    Sounds Wonderful, But.....

    by mrbeaks

    Leslie "Take Your Pick: DAYLIGHT or DANTE'S PEAK" Bohem? I hope there's some unproduced gem out there with Bohem's name on it that I haven't read because, so far, I've been singularly unimpressed. Then again, at least Steven isn't writing this one, too.

  • July 10, 2001, 12:31 p.m. CST

    Julie Benz

    by McGooo

    This sounds cool, but I hope this doesn't cut into Angel at all. I'd much rather watch her as Darla rather than her playing a housefrau.

  • July 10, 2001, 1:49 p.m. CST

    CE3K DVD

    by Charles Grady

    The Close Encounters DVD has tons of great supplements, and I love the movie, but does anyone else think the disk could have been a LOT sharper? I know that Trumbull explains how the extensive effects sequences put stress on the film itself and it will always be grainy, but the blacks are all over the map on that DVD and in some nighttime scenes the backgrounds are flickering they're so spotty and grainy.

  • July 10, 2001, 3:42 p.m. CST

    NOTHING is missing from Spielberg's recent work.

    by Rollo Tomassi

    Steven Spielberg is currently at the artistic pinnacle of his career, with films like "Schindler's List", "Amistad" "Saving Private Ryan" and "A.I." Only David Lean has ever been this good. The continued slams at Spielberg's recent work on AICN are puzzling and unfounded, especiall from guys who think Luc Besson is a director.

  • July 10, 2001, 3:57 p.m. CST

    are they making Earthsea movies?

    by penniless writer

    Because they should. Casting Ged would be tough. Kind of like casting Spenser (Robert B. Parker's detective.) robert Urich isn't right at all. (And yes, I know this is all way off topic, just ignore it if you don't care.)

  • July 10, 2001, 5:23 p.m. CST

    Spielberg on TV

    by ArchDiver fantastic! The only thing that doesn't work is the brains of those watching (not watching)! He has done some fantastic storytelling on TV. They mentioned DUEL above, but there was also AMAZING STORIES. That show was great. I can't think of one ep that was not thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining. They were full of whimsy and made you look at the world with wonderment. I am looking forward to TAKEN coming out, more so than any project that Joss Whedon is not involved in. BTW- Robert Urich was a great Spenser. He brought the perfect balance of charm, wit, righteousness, and toughness to the role.

  • July 10, 2001, 8:35 p.m. CST

    Steve Burton is great

    by EmilyQFan

    Just want to post that I am VERY happy for Steve B. He is a very good actor and I am glad to see him getting high profile work out side of GH. I think that Julie and Steve will be very good together L

  • July 11, 2001, 9:57 a.m. CST


    by quien?

    i'm glad to see that the sci-fi channell is actually becoming a real channel. shit, besides farscape & invisible man i thought they really didn't have anything good. oh, let's not forget babylon 5 & dune. also, what was "duel"? sounds familiar but i can't remember. hope they keep it up.

  • July 12, 2001, 8:39 a.m. CST

    The Last Castle

    by SicilianGoomba

    Wow! The first time AICN has mentioned the new Rod Lurie flick The Last Castle! I'm amazed! They're actually mentioning an intelligent movie instead of Men In Black 2, or Ninja Turtles! How noble of them! More coverage on movies like this might be nice!

  • July 12, 2001, 8:59 a.m. CST

    Spielberg Bashing....

    by barboo

    I find it interesting to Steven bashed and lauded in the same notes. Many reference the talent evidenced in his earlier work but totally discount the relevance and risk taking of movies like Schlindler's List, The Color Purple, and Amistad. It seems that most of the talkbackers are those who favor mostly escapist stuff rather than movies that make you think or shock us into the realization that the world is made up of more 'us white folk'. Steven has at least shown the courage to create stories that speak to the breadth of the 'human' experience rather than just focusing on the narrow segment of 'white America'. Some of his movies have been flawed, but all have been thought provoking. And this speaks to his work on the small screen also. The man is a storyteller. As I stated before, with adequate budget and the time provided in a mini series format, Steven's take on "Taken" has the potential of being good stuff.